This past week Quincy and I, along with other novices and seminarians from all over the country, gathered in Washington D.C. Why? Because Pope Francis invited us! We were lucky enough to be present in the National Shrine when the Pope said Mass and canonized Junipero Serra. It was an amazing experience to be there with so many other young people in the beginnings of this rather counter-cultural life we are embarking on (admittedly it seemed a lot less counter-cultural surrounded by hundreds of other novices). We stood in the security line with a large group of seminarians in various stages of their philosophy and theology studies. It was a time of teaching and learning the differences and the similarities between the orders and even within our own family. As Quincy noted in the last blog; It's a Family Affair. We happened to sit next to a group of Ann Arbor Dominicans and quickly made the family connection. We also got a great picture with some of our St. Louis Dominican family. We were "Dominican sighting" throughout the trip. Every time we would see a white habit we would introduce ourselves as family; the Ann Arbor's sitting next to us, the English province brother who just happens to be studying here this year, last year's CDN crowd, the throngs of brothers that came in as one big group, the Springfield sisters on the porch at the retreat house, and the Nashville sisters at the airport eager to tell everyone that their novices made the front page of The Wall Street Journal. What a way to meet family!
We also got to see the Pope on the road leaving the Vatican embassy. He looked rested and ready to talk to Congress as he waved to us.
This would have been enough to make being a Novice right now special but it isn't the only happening. We were blessed to enter the community during the sesquicentennial commemoration of the death of our founder, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli; a year dedicated to his legacy. During our candidate year Pope Francis declared the Year of Consecrated Life. He then invited us to see him while he was in Washington D.C.! And later this year we will begin the 800th Jubilee of the founding of the Order of Preachers. All of these events have/will highlight the life we have begun, whether it is religious life in general, Dominican life more specifically, and even Sinsinawan.
It is a special time to be discerning. Some may say it is all downhill from here but I don't think that will be the case. I think this is just solid, joyful footing to ground us in what can, and probably will at times, be an unsteady journey. We have also been blessed with hands to grab along the way; the sisters who sent us on the journey and the many family members we encounter along the way. And all of these events have helped to shed light on our path for our family and friends who might not understand what we are doing. It is a good time to be a Dominican novice!
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Since we arrived in St. Louis, Joye and Megan have worked hard to expose us to a multitude of Catholic communities in the area. Each Sunday we worship at a different church so Nicole and I have the chance to see the variation in services and get a feel for the congregations. The idea is that we will each select one parish which will become our community for the remainder of the year. First, we visited St. Francis Xavier (aka College Church), the Jesuit parish on the campus of Saint Louis University. The cantrix was phenomenal and we got to witness a baptism during the service. St. Pius V is the home parish of our Sinsinawa Dominican sister Mary Margaret--and of several Dominican Brothers from Aquinas Institute. The urban faith community is located in the heart of St. Louis. We also visited St. Vincent de Paul parish. Their diverse parishioners pride themselves on their active social ministry, which includes a daily lunch window for the homeless. They also serve the best church donuts I've ever had! This past Sunday we attended mass at the Washington University Catholic Student Center which had a surprisingly broad range of ages represented in the pews--from families with small children to the elderly to, of course, college students. The homily was my favorite so far. Soon, I will be going to Rock and the Cathedral Basilica to attend their services.
The CDN has also provided us with opportunities to get to know our Dominican Brothers here in St. Louis. Although we're only at Aquinas Institute on Tuesdays, we've already enjoyed a few events where we got to mingle with the faculty and student brothers. Last Saturday was a very big occasion for our Dominican family: we attended the Solemn Profession of 5 student brothers at St. Pius V. We met so many Dominican Religious at the ceremony and had the chance to get to know them a bit when we all celebrated at the Priory afterwards. Christin and Kelly (2014-15 CDN Novices) even drove in for the weekend so it felt like a bona fide Dominican Family Reunion! Then, on Labor Day, we joined the student brothers for a BBQ at the Priory.
We recently had our first ICN day (Inter Community Novitiate) where Nicole and I got to meet the extended group of discerning men and women religious. Alexian Brothers, Daughters of Charity, Oblates, Sisters of Charity, of Mercy, and of Providence and the Adorers of the Blood of Christ were all represented communities. With novices from all over the world: Texas to Sri Lanka to Australia, it was quite a diverse family of Catholics!
Finally, we enjoyed a "ladies' night" out last week to connect with more of our extended family: this time it was with our sisters in Giving Voice. This group may not have been as diverse as some of the others we've been rubbing elbows with of late, but it was wonderful for its easiness. These introductions quickly developed into familiarity as healthy doses of humor acted as the common theme. Thanks for organizing, Christin!
As you can tell, we're being fully immersed in a variety of Catholic circles here in St. Louis. My hope is that the relationships developing this year will last for years to come and will lay a solid foundation for future collaboration within the Church.